23 February 2013

Kenya: At Last, the Kick-Off

A new Kenya Premier league season kicks off tomorrow with the same usual suspects-Tusker, Gor Mahia, AFC Leopards, Sofapaka and Ulinzi Stars favourites to run away with the title once again.

The2013 season will have to be exhilarating from the start if it is to match the drama and intrigue that characterised last season where Tusker eventually snatched the trophy on the last day of the season.

Muhoroni Youth escaped relegation with just three matches left to play. The KPL champions and Gor Mahia will not be in action as they will duel in the Supersports DSTV Super cup match today at Nyayo national stadium.

Leopards who stormed out of the blocks last year under Dutchman Jan Koops who has since been replaced by Tom Olaba get their campaign underway with an a "away" game at Kasarani against Chemelil Sugar who were forced to travel all the way from their base in Nyanza to host the fixture in Nairobi due to a scarcity of venues sanctioned to host top flight matches.

"We feel shortchanged because our opening three matches will now be away from where we consider our home venue to be and we will not have the advantage of playing at our own backyard where we enjoy more support," lamented Chemelil team manager Rajab Said.

Ingwe will however take that decision as a blessing in disguise as it was the sugar millers who put paid to their title hopes in the last match of last season by beating them 1-0.The clash will be a repeat

of last seasons opening day clash where the two teams played out a goalless draw. Olaba will have a fully fit squad to choose from with Alan Wanga and Mike Barasa set to continue from where they left last

season leading the Leopards attack. It is at the back however, where their will be stiff competition for places. New signings Anthony Kimani and Jackson Saleh are used to playing first team football and so

are Johns Nahimana and Eric Masika but coach Olaba said competition for places is a healthy thing in a top side.

"I will look at a players attitude and character before deciding who starts in each game. As I said when I took over we will give everybody a chance to play," he said.

A strong finish to the season after leading the league at the halfway season last term has convinced East Africa Portland cement to increase their sponsorship of Sofapaka by Sh3m to Sh33 million and after

the confirmation of David Ouma as the clubs new head coach all is set for "Batoto ba Mungu" to launch another title assault. Ouma said after he was given his job fulltime the ambition was to be the top team in Africa and play in the World club Championship.

"And to do that we must first of all win the KPL title," he said. With Titus Mulama and Joh Baraza whose combined age is 70 no one will doubt Ouma has a tried and tested team capable of mustering all their experience to lead them to another title since their maiden win in 2009. First up for sofapaka at Nairobi City Stadium will be a potential banana skin in the shape of John Kamau's Thika United,

Stanley Okumbi may have saved Mathare from a relegation dogfight last season and now starts with a depleted squad to choose from . He will have to use all his man management skills to better the eighth place finish the 2008 champions managed last season. The Slum Boys leave today for Awendo where they will play Sony Sugar who have a new man at the helm-Sammy Omollo.

Mathare will come up against their former striker Francis Ouma who together with David Nyanzi will be leading the new look Sony attack after the departures of fans favourite Enoch Agwanda and Ismail Dunga. Okumbi will rely on old hands Lloyd Wahome and Vincent 'Isio' Okello as well as the returning journeymen goalkeeper Joseph Rutto, defender Edgar 'Fighter' Ochieng and winger Kevin 'master' Ochieng.

Tomorrow's fixtures

KCB v Nairobi Stars-City 2pm

Sofapaka v Thika Utd-City 4pm

Chemelil v Leopards-Kasarani-3pm

Muhoroni v W Stima-Gusii-3pm

Homeboyz v Karuturi-Bukhungu-3pm

Sony v Mathare-Awendo-3pm

Ulinzi v Bandari-Afraha3pm

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